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Playing Jamerson Style For Practice

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by StyleOverShow, Jan 22, 2014.

  1. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Hillsdale, Portland
    Recently started playing "the hook", index finger only, while practicing and noticed a couple of things.

    I really thumped the notes out, more accurately if not a little slower. Kinda how I came to it. Working with a metronome I noticed that I was rushing certain phrases.

    It also helped to identify where the accents are/should be. I thought that I was able to feel the bass line better.

    Try it out.[​IMG]
  2. Stormer


    Jul 24, 2012
    I play most of my bands original songs (slower ones), using my index finger only. It happened purely by accident, but I think it sounds better, the attack is more consistent.
    But I will go back to two or three fingers for the faster songs. My "hook" is nowhere near Jamerson standard.

    Cool strings!
  3. bassdude51

    bassdude51 Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    There is a lot to be said for the single finger "the hook" plucking syle!

    I got into it because of Jerry Schiff, who also is a single finger plucker! (I used to use 2 fingers.)

    I agree with what Jerry says about that style. It covers about 90% of his bass playing and it covers about 98% percent of mine.

    For very fast repetitious plucking, I find that I can pluck faster with a single finger. But, other little funky quick tricky lines, 2 fingers is a necessity.

    It's interesting how the human brain works and certain bass lines that require double finger for a few notes, well the brain automatically knows when to go from single finger to double for the 2% of the time when needed.

    I recently read that Jamerson's son said that his dad also used his "hook" to pluck strings upward and downward at the same time for passages where most bassist would use 2 fingers for quick parts.

    That technique can also be mastered with time and practice.

    Overall, single finger plucking gives a nice controlled and uniform volume and sound on the strings.

    I'm sure many other bassist will take issue with single finger plucking but...............stand up bass players prove what the single finger can do!

    Jamerson originally was a stand up bassist and maybe that's why he used single finger plucking style. It was truly amazing what he could do with "the hook"!
  4. mccartneyman


    Dec 22, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Managing Editor, Bass Guitars Editor, MusicGearReview.com
    I use two fingers, but I use the index finger probably 75% of the time. I just developed it on my own after starting with my thumb, like Brian Wilson, and finding I could play very fast. In the '70s I went o 90% pick becaseu we were covering a lot of Yes, Deep Purple, etc. I can do both, but if I want clean and fast, it's fingers.
  5. about Jamerson's style:

    He played upright after the sessions, and playing upright will get you nice thick callouses on the ends and sides of your plucking fingers. He had high action on his bass, and he played with a light touch, letting the callous do the work. When I play a lot I get thick callouses, and my tone changes and seems to round out a bit.

    If you change your plucking style to using the side of the end of your finger, ala upright style, the attack of the note will be reduced.
  6. jefkritz


    Oct 20, 2007
    iowa city, IA
    hook is fun. more importantly, i'm loving the multi-colored strings!

    is there a difference in tone between the various colors? :bag: ;)
  7. Doctor_Clock

    Doctor_Clock The Moon Machine Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2013
    Brooklyn, NY
    I have always played using mostly one finger, and I have been reprimanded for it for years by teachers and other players, my go-to response is "I wish you could have told James Jamerson not to use one finger, he would have been so much better!"
    Seriously, use what you feel is comfortable and experiment with different ways to play and you will unlock all sorts of tones IMO.
  8. heynorm


    Oct 21, 2010
    Omaha, NE
    I played with a pick for over 20 years, until the early 90's, then self-converted to finger(s). Turns out that most of the time I'm a single finger plucker (say that fast five times!)
  9. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Hillsdale, Portland

    Yeah, the blue is bluer